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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bachmann Backslides on Background

Michele Bachmann (already a problem for me to remember how to spell) has been fairly prominent in the news, even before she started her campaign for the Republican nomination. Her appeal in the Iowa straw poll (in August, apparently), can’t be denied either. I don’t see eye to eye on any of her positions, but I’m more concerned about the business she’s been running with her husband, of which I only recently became aware of. In the last five years, there’ve been allegations that they use controversial reparative therapy to try to change homosexual people and make them heterosexual. The term “reparative therapy” is somewhat wide ranging, but in the case of Bachmann and Associates, there’s an explicit Christian element to it that smacks of the same sort of nonsense you hear about in the vein of “praying the gay away” for instance. Bachmann and her husband insist the allegations are false, but there seems to be evidence to the contrary.

The religious orientation of the center is enough of a potential red light, though not every group centered on Christianity insists on such unscientific practices. There was at least one undercover reporter that got answers to questions about whether you could change from being gay to straight through their practices that were pretty confident, though the person seemed to realize they needed to qualify that their knowledge was not expert level in any way. Another person who’s experienced the troubling aspects of the center’s approach to homosexuality is former patient Andrew Ramirez. He said that the practices involved prayer, reading Bible passages and mentoring with an “ex-lesbian” counselor. He was apparently told from the start that if the therapy worked, God would “perform a miracle” and make him straight. Of course, they were at least partially realistic in realizing that the therapy might not work. But what was their solution if that happened? Well, live a life of celibacy and never act on your homosexual desires, of course.

Many Christians have this sort of approach towards sexual ethics: the desires of sex themselves are not evil, since they lead in the “proper” situation to procreation and intimacy within marriage; not to mention claiming that sexual desires are evil would be tantamount to Christian Gnosticism, not only a heresy, but equated many times with harsh asceticism that most people can’t handle anyway. It’s the acting on those sexual attractions that seems to be the evil thing, even in a committed monogamous relationship for homosexuals, oddly enough. If you’re a married, or in some Christian circles, committed monogamous, straight couple, then sex is permitted on the grounds that it is both natural and ordained by God itself. But not if you’re homosexual, which seems to be the only distinguishable difference. The double standard irks me already on the face of it with this notion that homosexuals have no right to experience intimacy with a partner they are willing to commit to just because their union won’t produce children; as if the intimacy and fidelity that can come from a gay couple uniting in the sexual act is somehow worth less than a straight couple’s union.  The same problem of non procreation occurs in terms of infertile straight couples. Are they bad? Not according to this argument, since they could “miraculously” conceive. What’s stopping homosexual couples from experiencing miraculous conception even if they don’t have sex that is procreative in nature, I wonder? Just that God hates homosexual sex for some reason.

But Marcus Bachmann, Michele Bachmann’s husband, said something even more troubling to me in relation to homosexuality and also how his group approaches the issue. He speaks about it with the confidence that the bible says it is wholly bad, even if it was in a committed “Biblical” relationship where the two remained faithful to each other before God and humanity. Perhaps that’s the case, and I could accept that the Bible’s general position on homosexuality is disapproval. But he associates those who support and/or practice it as “barbarians”, saying that they need to be educated. He then takes the route of saying that just because people feel it or think it doesn’t mean that it’s right.  Firstly, homosexuality is hardly barbaric, unless he’s referring to the instances of homosexual rape that, historically, were used to demean the enemy. Rape, in any form, heterosexual or homosexual, is a bad thing and barbaric by nature, that much we might be able to agree on. But homosexual behavior is natural, even if it is a minority practice. Educating people might be admirable if you actually used facts and didn’t try to skew them in a way that makes gay people seem terrible. If you take particular studies and statistics, you can make homosexuals seem promiscuous and more likely to get AIDS or HIV, but one could easily do the same thing with straights if you don’t know proper statistics. I don’t claim to be an expert, but given enough time to look at the sources and samplings, there are usually swathes of area left for improvement with many of these anti-gay pedagogues who insist that homosexuals are ignorant and advocate just doing it like animals. I don’t think any gay person uses the argument that homosexual behavior is in nature to try to try to say that it is morally permissible to have homosexual relationships. There’s a name for that argument: appeal to nature. The obvious problem here is that things like murder, rape and sabotage all exist in nature with surprising commonality at times. Dolphins, ducks and chickadees do each of the 
mentioned “crimes” respectively and yet we don’t hold them accountable under any law.

The reason homosexuality isn’t harmful to society as a whole is that, like straight sex, done in the privacy of one’s own home and responsibly between consenting adults, harms no one else and happens so often, it could be going on next door as you’re reading this or at any location within your county or state at any conceivable time. Being gay might be a combination of inborn and acquired traits, but any practice suggesting you can forcefully change a thing developed early in pre pubescence (to an extent) is harmful on its face and the American Psychological Association is right to condemn such a thing. Bachmann and Associates insist they aren’t doing this and would allow people to be gay, but it’s that drawing people in with the promise of being saved by religious interventions from God that manipulates people’s feelings and pressures them implicitly to try to stop being gay. I say be who you are, particularly on something that’s biological and for the most part, inescapable. Until next time, Namaste and aloha.

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